There is a 5 dan player who runs the official Go club in the city who I shall address as Mr. Li. Being someone who has played the game for 30 years, he has amassed a lot of fame in the amateur scene in China. Often he would tell us some of his stories, here’s one of them…
In some amateur tournaments in China, there are a lot players who play dirty. For Mr. Li’s game in the quarterfinals, he was scheduled to play an opponent who is “supposedly” absent. Those who were absent for longer than 15 minutes after the round begins lose automatically. Turns out his opponent had already arrived, but was hiding in an obscure place behind a few decorative pillars in the venue. It wasn’t until about 13 minutes into the round did he actually come out from hiding and greet Mr. Li. Some people do this to create a psychological effect in their opponent. It is trying to give false hope of an automatic win, before showing up and stage an upset. Apparently this technique can work really well on some people, throwing them off balance in their entire game. However, Mr. Li did something just as dirty.
Anyway, on with the story. It follows that during the mid game, Mr. Li had miscalculated his position, and two very critical cutting stones are caught in a ladder. The ladder is very complex, and there are many turning points in the ladder, thus requiring a lot of calculation. Mr. Li spotted this and realized there was no way to save those stones. So he waited, and pretended he was thinking very seriously. He waited about ten minutes acting this way, and played one move on the ladder (trying to run out the ladder that doesn’t work). The opponent, seeing this, immediately followed up with the ladder atari. Mr. Li paused again, waiting another 20 minutes, looking “as serious as if your life depended on it” as he puts it, before playing another ladder move. Now his opponent was doubting himself. He had heard of Mr. Li’s fame and achievement record, so naturally he thought maybe he had miscalculated, and that the ladder actually doesn’t work for him.
So yeah, Mr. Li’s opponent tenukied, and Mr. Li quickly saved those laddered stones. Mr. Li eventually won the game. After the game, Mr. Li told him those stones were actually dead, and that he had planned on resigning had he kept trying to capture them. His opponent was shocked but too embarrassed to mention the cheap trick he played for he knew he was no better
The game of Go is a lot more than what you see on the board. 盘外招 is the Chinese phrase for “tricks outside the board” Of course, I don’t recommend trying any of it